Tag Archives: baby

The Secrets to Cooking Italian (with recipe)

Squash Pasta NoodlesItaly has 20 regions, each with its own specialty dishes and cooking styles. A common factor across every region is the use of fresh products. From the far north regions to the southern shores, fresh food is the key to great tasting dishes. Italian recipes are handed down from grandmothers to the next generations.  Many recipes are surprisingly simple, so you do not need to be a culinary expert to cook up great Italian dishes at home.

Traditionally, the preparation of Italian food is as much of a part of the feast as the actual meal. Kids can join in on the cooking fun by washing produce, measuring ingredients, stirring and more.  Children who get involved in preparing their food are more likely to eat it.

The basic ingredients to keep on hand for preparing healthy Italian dishes are:

Olive oil

Olives and capers

Whole Grains

Tomatoes (fresh and canned)

Garlic

Parmesan cheese or other hard cheese

Mozzarella cheese

Common Herbs and Spices in Italian foods:

In addition to fresh basil and Italian parsley (flat-leafed variety), oregano, thyme and marjoram are commonly used in Italian dishes. Lemons grow throughout Italy and are also used to enhance many Italian dishes.

Italian Cheeses:

Cheese is a great source of calcium which is an important mineral for healthy teeth and bones.  Italy produces more than 400 varieties of cheese. The most well-known Italian cheeses are mozzarella and parmesan.  Here are some of the lesser known but equally delicious Italian cheeses to look for in your local market:

Asiago – made from cow’s milk and available fresh or aged. Fresh Asiago has a smooth texture and can be melted on sandwiches. Aged Asiago has a texture and flavor that is similar to parmesan and can be used in soups, sauces, salads and pastas.

Gorgonzola -made from cow’s milk and aged in a process much like blue cheese.  Gorgonzola can be purchased in block form or crumbles. It makes a great addition to pasta and pizza.  It also works well as an appetizer or snack with sliced apples and pears.

Mascarpone- Mascarpone is a rich, creamy cheese made from cow’s milk. It is the main ingredient in the dessert, Tiramisu.

Pecorino Romano – a hard, salty cheese made from sheep’s milk. It has a sharp flavor and is used to flavor sauces and pastas.

Provolone – a semi-hard cheese made from cow’s milk. The flavor can range from mild to sharp depending on aging.  Provolone is a great cheese for sandwiches and melts.

Ricotta – Although commonly known as a cheese, Ricotta is made from the whey of sheep, cow, goat or buffalo milk and is not produced in the same way as cheese. It does not contain casein and can be eaten by people with casein sensitivity.  Ricotta is used in lasagna, stuffed shells and many Italian desserts.

Creamy Pesto Sauce 

Pesto is a staple in Italian cooking. Traditionally made with basil, olive oil, crushed garlic, pine nuts and parmesan cheese. Variations include sundried tomatoes, red bell peppers and nut-free options. The word “pesto” means to crush or pound using a mortar and pestle. The flavor of Pesto may be a little too strong for tiny taste buds. This recipe is the perfect way to begin the introduction of this delicious sauce.

Ingredients:

1 cup milk

1 cup mascarpone or cream cheese

2 Tbsp. pesto sauce (store bought or homemade)

 Directions:

In a small sauce pan over medium heat add all the ingredients. Stir frequently and do not let the mixture boil. After 2-3 minutes mixture will become smooth. Remove from heat and pour sauce into a 2-cup measuring cup. Let cool for 10 minutes. Pour the creamy pesto sauce into your So Easy Baby Food Trays, cover and freeze until ready to use.

Serving:

Remove a sauce cube from the freezer, defrost and add it to mashed or pureed foods. Here are a few suggestions for delicious creamy pesto meals:

 

  • Mashed potatoes with pureed cauliflower, peas and white beans with creamy pesto sauce
  • Pasta with chopped chicken and broccoli with creamy pesto sauce
  • Flaked whitefish (such and tilapia or catfish) and mashed rice with creamy pesto sauce

 

 

Toddler Treat: Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup is a classic Italian-American dish with a great mix of vegetables, pasta and tiny meatballs. Its name comes from the fact the meat and vegetable taste great together – they are a perfect marriage!

 

Ingredients:

2 quarts (64 oz.) Chicken Stock

1 carrot, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

½ cup Ditalini pasta (or small-shaped pasta)

1 pound ground pork

½ tsp salt and pepper

¼ cup Italian-style bread crumbs

¼ cup parmesan cheese

1 cup cut green beans (fresh or frozen)

1 (15 oz.) can chick peas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

 

Directions:

In a large pot, bring chicken stock, carrot, celery and pasta to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and simmer for 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the meatballs. Combine ground pork, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper in a bowl. Form mixture into ½-1-inch meatballs. Drop the meatballs into the simmering soup and cook for 5 minutes. Add the green beans and chick peas and cook an additional 5 minutes.

Serve with bread or homemade muffins. Italian Wedding Soup can be frozen in small portions for terrific warm-up lunches or after school snacks.

Creative Commons License photo credit: SummerTomato

Baby’s First Holiday Dinner

Sharing the fabulous flavors of the Holidays with your new baby is an experience that you’ll cherish.  Socializing is part of the fun too, so reserve a seat (high chair) at or near the dining room table for baby to join in the celebration.

Even though your baby may not be eating all types of table food yet, there are plenty of foods choices that can make a festive and delicious Holiday dinner. For Baby’s holiday dinner, stick with foods that you have already introduced. Introducing new foods could cause tummy aches or an allergic reaction – neither of which you want to deal with during this fun time. 

Here are a few ideas to serve up a Holiday Dinner for your baby:

Baby’s Age: about 6 months: 

Common first food purees that have a Holiday Flavor

  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Squash (this includes pumpkin)
  • Green Peas
  • Apples
  • Pears

Recipe: Apple or Pumpkin Cutie Pie

For the “crust”: combine a crushed graham cracker with oatmeal cereal and breast milk (or formula) in a small bowl

For the pie filling:

  • Pumpkin Cutie Pie: Combine Pumpkin Puree (from scratch or 100% pumpkin from the can) and apple puree. Spoon this mixture over the cereal crust. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Apple Cutie Pie: Combine apple puree with a dash of cinnamon. Spoon this mixture over the cereal crust. Refrigerate until ready to serve

Baby’s Age: 7-12 Months:

Turkey (2 options):

  1. Pureed:  Puree chopped turkey and a little chicken broth in a blender
  2. Finger food: chopped in small pieces

Roast Beef (2 options):

  1. Pureed:  Puree chopped roast beef and a little beef broth in a blender
  2. Finger food: chopped in small pieces

Note:  Use broth or soup stock instead of gravy to puree your baby’s meals.  Gravy tends to be high in fat and salt.

1-Dish Casserole Ideas:

Make a yummy casserole by combining vegetables, fruits, and meat together to make one-dish meal.  Depending on your baby’s feeding skills, choose the appropriate texture for these meals: smooth puree, lumpy (fork mashed) or finger foods.

Gobble Gobble Casserole: 

  • Peas, mashed potatoes and turkey
  • Apples, mashed sweet potatoes and turkey
  • Broccoli, cauliflower and turkey

Roast Beast Feast:

  • Green beans, mashed potatoes and roast beef
  • Corn, green beans and roast beef
  • Asparagus, mashed potatoes and roast beef

Baby’s Age: over 12 Months:

If your baby has been introduced to most foods and is ready to enjoy the feast like a big kid, here are few tips:

  1. Take a quick taste of each food before putting on your child’s plate and make the determination if the flavor is appropriate for your child’s palate.
  2. Avoid foods that may contain ingredients that are choking hazards
  3. If your child has not been introduced to high-allergen foods such as nuts or eggs, ask the chef about the ingredients of foods in advance of the meal.

Planning your baby’s meal:

If the Holiday dinner is at your house, you can prepare your little ones meal right alongside the rest of the family’s.  Simply remove foods you would like for your baby before adding seasonings, butter and salt. Then make the appropriate texture (i.e. puree or mash) for your baby.

If you are the guest of another family, you can bring the fruits and vegetable for your baby in a small tote bag.  Simply add the main course, such as turkey or roast beef before the meal begins.  If you plan to puree the main course, bring a small amount of broth (chicken of beef) with you in the tote bag.

About the author: Cheryl Tallman is the co-founder of Fresh Baby, creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit, and author of the So Easy Baby Food and the new book So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips and Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years. Visit Cheryl online at www.FreshBaby.com for more delicious tips.

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / Chris Bartow

Word Medicine

  Friends of mine just gave birth so there is no link in this installment of Word Medicine, just a blessing 🙂 <3

 

Boy, 7 lbs

 

Heightened anticipation soaring over rooftops from cell-to-cell-to-facebook wall-to-a community of heartbeats racing in the same rhythm.

Broadcasting the same loving prayerful thoughts.

The mother was challenged and prevailed. Waves of loving energy enmeshed in her dream fulfilled.

To rest peacefully on the shore of the storm, babe in arms, bliss ignited.

Another vessel unfurls its sails.

Foods Not Good For Babies

 There are many choices of tasty, healthy foods for your baby, but not all foods are baby-friendly. Here are some foods that are not good for your baby.

 

Sugar, high fructose corn syrup, salt and caffeine

Delay introducing as long as possible

Avoid foods that contain these items as main ingredients.

High nitrate foods

Introduce over 8 months

Beets, carrots, green beans, spinach, and collard greens. Also hot dogs, ham, bologna, sausages, salami, and many other deli meats.

Foods that can contain disease-causing bacteria

Introduce over 12 months

Honey, un-pasteurized foods (i.e. apple cider), blue cheese, brie, and raw fish.

Frequent allergens

Introduce over 12 months, possibly much later

Berries, chocolate, citrus fruits, cow’s milk, egg whites, fish and shellfish, nuts, peanuts, and tomatoes. Processed foods with additives, coloring agents, and preservatives

Choking hazards

Introduce at 2-3 years

Nuts (other than finely ground); peanut butter; caramel; candy; gum; whole grapes; raw, hard fruits and veggies; chunks of meat; pieces of bacon; hot dogs; sunflower seeds; popcorn; raisins; potato chips; and hard candy.

Hot foods

Introduce after 2-3 years

All foods should be served cold, at room temperature, or slightly warm.

 

About the author: Cheryl Tallman is the co-founder of Fresh Baby, creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit, and author of the So Easy Baby Food Basics:Homemade Baby Food in Less Than 30 Minutes Per Week and So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips and Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years. Visit Cheryl online at www.FreshBaby.com for more delicious tips.

 

Ban the Crackberry! Mommy Greenest Checks Out

Last weekend I packed up the chemical-free bug spray (gotta love that citronella scent), zinc oxide sunscreen and four reusable shopping bags full of organic food and set off on a camping trip with six other families from my kids’ school. “Camping” is really a euphemism—the cabins we booked were more like hotel rooms, with refrigerators, full bathrooms and daily maid service—although we did cook over a campfire, scared away some skunks and endured nightly visits from inquisitive mice.

We’re all pretty tuned-in parents, so my eco offerings didn’t raise any eyebrows—though I was a little dismayed to find that even the families who packed their kids’ school lunchboxes with BPA-free, stainless steel reusable water bottles stocked up on cases of eight-ounce plastic water bottles for the trip. As I was filling up my glass as the tap in another family’s cabin, one of their kids pointed to the plastic and told me, “There’s clean water over there.” It drove home the point that most kids see tap water as “dirty” and bottled water as “clean,” when the reality is just the opposite. What ever happened to the good old-fashioned canteen?

But I digress. My goal for this camping trip was to tune out of work and tune into my family. Because although I write about sustainability for a living, the truth is that lately my life hasn’t been all that balanced. I work from home, so I can take my kids to school and throw in a load of laundry while still managing to meet my deadlines. But I’ve gotten so overwhelmed these days that I can’t seem to turn off the work part. I leave my office door open so I can pop in and check my email while my girls are in the bath. I bring my mobile phone downstairs to text with an editor while I’m making the pasta. I put the kids to bed, then write copy until midnight.

And I check email. It’s the first thing I do in the morning, and the last thing I do at night. I check email in the car, on a walk, after yoga. I check email while talking to people. I check email while texting.
I noticed a few days ago that whenever I meet friends for lunch these days, we all put our phones on the tables so we can glance over as the messages come rolling in, and deal with whatever’s urgent. But what’s really so urgent that it can’t wait an hour?

So after interviewing Mariel Hemingway a few weeks ago and listening to her talk about “showing up” in our lives, I started looking at the amount of email checking I was doing. I thought about how many times my husband has begged me to just turn off the phone when we go away for a weekend. And I realized that our luxury camping trip provided the perfect opportunity.

On Friday morning, I cut the cord.

I gave myself some back up, of course. An auto reply included my cell phone number, should anyone need to reach me. And I did keep my phone on, though email free. But you know what? I didn’t miss it, and nobody missed me. I spent three days just hanging out with the Barnacle (read: baby) and the rest of the family and relaxing.

I came back to 200 emails, which I waded through for two hours on Sunday night. But nothing fell through the cracks. And this week, so far, I’m continuing to manage the addiction. The email function on my phone isn’t working, and I’ve decided not to fix it. I ate breakfast, took a shower, made lunches and read the paper before I checked my messages this morning.

I guess this stuff isn’t so urgent, after all.

What do you do to check out? Tell me about it.

Homemade Baby Food: A Fresh Start to Healthy Eating

Introducing solid foods is a very important step in your baby’s development and well-being. In fact,  studies show that babies who are fed nutritious, healthy diets grow into stronger kids and better-adjusted eaters than those who are fed poor diets.

 
Many parents don’t realize that making baby food at home is a simple and economical plan to provide your baby with the best in quality, nutrition and taste. It makes it easy for you to ensure your child gets the best start possible. Making baby food using fresh, all-natural ingredients has many benefits, including:
 
  • Increased nutritional value
  • Elimination of additives
  • Improved freshness
  • Added variety
  • Enhanced control
  • Lower costs
 
Increased nutritional value
Vitamins and other nutrients are critically important to your baby. For the next three years, your baby will experience rapid growth and development. It is essential that he be fed a healthy and nutritious diet to maximize his growth and development process.
 
Processed baby foods have added water, sugars and starchy fillers. While these products are not nutritionally bad for your baby, their use in baby food dilutes the nutrient content of the actual foods. To make matters worse, processed baby foods are cooked at high temperatures to kill bacteria, so they can be stored in jars at room temperature. Bacteria are not the only things that are eliminated in this process. Vitamins and nutrients are also destroyed. Many baby food manufacturers compensate for the loss of vitamins by artificially adding some of them back in after the food is processed.
 
When you make baby food at home, you can cook it quickly. This process not only preserves the wonderful color and taste of the food, but most importantly it maximizes the foods’ nutrient content for your precious baby.
 
Elimination of additives
Processed baby foods contain trace amounts of chemicals, including pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved these chemicals, you may choose not to feed your baby products containing them. Buying certified organic produce (fresh or frozen) and preparing food at home eliminates agricultural chemicals from your baby’s diet.
 
In addition, many varieties of processed baby foods add ingredients that are not essential or beneficial to your baby’s diet. These can include ingredients such sugar, butter and salt. Most healthcare professionals will recommend you avoid the introduction of these foods until your child is much older. Homemade baby food is pure, wholesome food with nothing added that you did not add yourself.
 
Improved freshness
Have you compared fresh green peas to a jar of pea baby food? Even though they are the same food, they don’t look, smell or taste similar. While your baby does not have the refined palate of an adult, he does respond to taste, color and smell. With the enormous availability of fresh produce in your grocery store and the simplicity of making baby food, there is really is no reason he needs to be deprived of colorful, tasty, great-smelling baby food. And serving fresh food from the very beginning will help your baby be more open to tasting new flavors and types of food.
 
Additional variety
Processed baby food is developed for the mass market and, as a result, is limited in variety. Variety is key to a balanced diet and healthy living. Today’s grocery stores offer a tremendous variety of fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. There is no reason why your baby should be limited by what food manufacturers consider the most popular foods. What’s more, preparing baby food at home enables you to add herbs, combine flavors, and easily introduce new textures, making your baby’s mealtime a pleasurable, gourmet experience.
 
Enhanced control
As a parent, you want to understand and trust the ingredients in your baby’s diet. Similarly, you want assurance concerning the purity, safety, quality and consistency of such ingredients. Preparing baby food at home provides you with control of your baby’s diet and knowledge of exactly what goes into your baby’s food. The more involvement you have with what you are feeding your baby, the more likely you are to nurture healthy eating habits.
 
Lower costs
Processed baby foods are expensive. The average baby in the United States will consume 600 jars of baby food. Parents who use processed baby food spend an average of $300 or more on baby food during their infant’s first year of life. Making baby food at home is extremely cost-effective, as foods may be purchased either in season or on sale. On average, baby food prepared at home can cost as little as $55 in the first year.
 
With all these benefits, you may think that it is difficult to make baby food, but it is a lot easier to make than you may imagine. Using fresh produce, a blender and set of ice cube trays, you can make food in quantity and freeze it in single servings. This means you only need to make food once or twice a week. Bottom line, it takes about 30 minutes a week. Here is a simple and easy recipe for a common first food:
 
Sweet Potato Puree
 
2-3 medium to large sweet potatoes
 
Step 1: PREP – Wash, peel and chop sweet potatoes into one-inch (3 cm) cubes
 
Step 2: COOK – Place sweet potatoes and 2 Tablespoons (30ml) of water in a microwave-safe dish. Cover. Cook 8-10 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes. They are done if the sweet potatoes can be mashed easily with a fork.
 
Step 3: PUREE – Place sweet potatoes and cooking juices into a blender of food processor. Add ½ cup (60 ml) of water. Puree. Add additional ¼ to ½ cup (60 – 100 ml) of water, as needed, to develop of smooth texture.
 
Step 4: FREEZE – Spoon into So Easy Baby Food Trays or ice cube trays. Cover. Place in freezer 8-10 hours or overnight. Remove cubes from trays, place in storage container or freezer bag, and return immediately to the freezer.
 
Makes 24 one-ounce servings. Stays fresh for 2 months in the freezer.
 
To serve, select frozen sweet potato cubes from the freezer, defrost and warm, check the temperature and feed.
 
Per Serving: 12 Cal (1% from Fat, 8% from Protein, 91% from Carb); 0 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 3 g Carb; 0 g Fiber; 1 g Sugar; 5 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 55 mg Potassium; 2364 IU Vit A; 0 mg ATE Vit E; 4 mg Vit C

My meditating routine and being present

Originally posted at Vitality Health Hub.

Hello out there,

If you know me relatively well you will know that I am a big fan of meditating – you know, sitting there with your eyes closed remaining still breathing deeply and trying to quieten your mind. "Oh yeah, that’s what meditation is" I hear you say!

And for a long time I meditated every day and I felt absolutely fantastic. I was reading up on the best techniques to meditate from Osho and Deepak Chopra, among others, I kepto my routine and it was brilliant. It has after all been once called "The best thing a person can do" and I can agree with that. Before I started meditating I would have very up and down emotions, and I most definitely could not stay present with many things for very long.

After a while (if you can), I feel I got quite good at meditation. Being a competitive person I found myself trying to do longer, and make each meditation session "better" than the last one – sorry for the judgement, I’m just being honest!

I even began to stay present with everyday life. If I am honest I feel that this is really one of the [many] goals of meditating – to be able to stay present with everyday life. Many people nowadays are running around with attention deficit behaviours and I suggest that we can all benefit from meditating.

However, I have noticed recently that I am not staying particularly present and I would honestly put this down to my lack of a regular meditation routine.

What made me notice this was just two days ago, I woke up at my usual time (I am usually the first up) and my newborn baby girl Tabitha Joy was actually awake already. She was lying in her crib, very relaxed and calm so I left her to chill out thinking she would go back to sleep, but when my wife Laurie woke up she was still awake. I began to think how amazing it is that Tabitha being born into this world with a relative ‘blank slate’ to work on, that she has no preconceived ideas about life and is happy to just spend time with herself.

Now, I have always been quite good at this as a boy, but there are still times when I find it hard to spend time alone. This is what meditation has always helped me with in the past.

So, now I am off to meditate and practise what I preach. I started yesterday and will continue to meditate every day!

Wish me luck (and silence of the mind, too) 🙂

Let me know any of your meditation experiences, I would love to share stories with people!

Natural Baby Products

It has been said that bearing a child is one of the most miraculous things a woman can do in her lifetime. Months, sometimes years of preparation go into planning a pregnancy.

Of course, with major events comes major advertising campaigns and people trying to cash in on the special occasion. Open any ‘pregnancy’ magazine and you are instantly confronted with page after page of advertising for so-called baby products.

The question is: who decides these products are for babies? 

 

The world is certainly becoming more aware of the impact of chemicals in the air we breath, the food we eat and the water we drink- and no-one becomes aware of things more rapidly than a woman when she finds out she’s expecting. But there is still a definite grey area surrounding the effects of chemicals in personal care products, and this includes baby care.

More often than not, the revelation that a woman is pregnant is followed by a flurry of activity. Trips to the doctor, to the hospital, and to the hardware store to pick out paint for the nursery, but during all this preparation no-one’s warning the parents-to-be about the potential hazards lurking in all the baby necessities.

 

Pregnancy and babies are BIG business, but in the race to out sell the competition most big brands have dropped their ethics and kept on running.

Expectant couples are one of the most vulnerable groups when it comes to advertising, everyone wants the best for their baby. 

Here-in lies the irony.

The fact is, the vast majority of products aimed at the pregnancy/baby market are potentially harming both mother and child.

 

Let’s begin with the bathroom cabinet. One of the first steps for a lot of pregnant women is to start a new body care regime, often using products formulated for pregnant or nursing mothers. This ‘formulation’ would lead the consumer to believe that these products would be perfectly safe for mother and child (who will absorb a proportion of the 60-70% of the toxins that enter the mothers blood stream). However, products such as stretch-mark cream, baby oil (supposedly mild) and relaxing bubble baths often contain ingredients that these mothers-to-be would be less than happy for their baby to ingest. To name some particulars; bubble bath wouldn’t be so ‘bubbly’ without the Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, a foaming agent also used in car washes and engine degreasers, equally worrying is that baby oil is generally 100% mineral oil- a petroleum by-product that coats the skin like plastic, clogging the pores.

By the time the little one arrives, it will probably have every conceivable lotion, potion and powder waiting to be patted onto the inevitable sore bottom. For this reason, personal care products are one of the worst culprits of deception. These well marketed bottles, with slogans such as ‘mild’, ‘gentle’ and ‘kind’, are generally a cocktail of toxins. 

Children are extremely vulnerable to the vast array of chemicals prevalent in personal care products. A child’s skin is 30% thinner than an adult, but the surface area of skin (relative to body weight) is greater, such that the potential dose of a chemical following dermal exposure is likely to be 3 times greater than in an adult. Another worrying statistic is that the blood-brain barrier, necessary to protect the baby’s brain tissue from penetration by the aforementioned, is not fully formed until the age of six months.

In the absence of adequate legislation, the manufacturers of childrens personal care products have made unfounded claims about product safety. 

Commonly used in this group of products are ingredients such as:

Parabens- linked to hormone disruption. 

Dyes & fragrances- both known neurotoxins and allergens.

Alcohol- a very drying solvent and dehydrator, known to strip your skin’s natural acid mantle, making it more vulnerable to bacteria, moulds & viruses.

Phthalates- used to make plastics flexible, they are also found in shampoos, moisturisers, nail polishes and hair sprays, links have been made with with testicular abnormalities in male offspring exposed to these chemicals in the womb. Other side effects of this plethora of synthetic ingredients include skin irritation, asthma and eczema. So at a time when these types of inflammatory reaction have never been more common in children, could it be that the cure is actually the cause? It terrible to think that some thick ‘soothing’ creams recommended for childhood eczema, could actually be making the whole situation worse. Two recent studies (Tresande 2004 & Katelaris 2006) have found that certain chemicals in baby care products are causative of these skin complaints.

 

Moving on to the nursery, a sanctuary of calm for the newborn, and a chance for mother to put her nesting skills to good use. 

Often the nursery will need to be painted, possibly requiring the old paint to be stripped from the walls. In either case if a standard paint is used, it will emit VOC’s, a group of chemicals known to cause headaches, eye, nose, and throat infections, coughing, itchy skin, nausea, dizziness and mood swings, among others. 

Next, the freshly stripped and painted nursery is furnished- cot, changing table, curtains, and bed clothes. If bought from a conventional baby store these will undoubtably have been treated with fire retardants, the cotton curtains and bedspread might have been sprayed with pesticides and fertilizers in the field, then dipped in chemical dyes, and stitched by someone on minimum wage in a third world country. The first place babies put all things as soon as they’ve mastered the pincer grip, is in their mouths. So, in go the fertilizers, dyes, and fire retardants. Not quite the nutritious eating plan the parents had in mind.

 

At this stage, things are evolving rapidly as large corporations tap into consumer consciousness and start to produce their own supposedly ‘natural’ varieties.

My advice is this, take these life changing decisions into you own hands. Search out information on ethical skin care and home supplies, read ingredients on bottles. Take back your right to decide on your family’s long-term health.

 

Originally posted on Natural Baby Products Blog 

http://naturalbabyproducts.wordpress.com

Let Them Eat Cake

It’s the holiday season.  And I want to eat cake.  But I’m hesitant.  Because I feel that I shouldn’t.  That if I do, I’ll be doing something bad.  But is that really true?

Since this cake drama began many months ago, I should rewind and start at the beginning. 

When I was pregnant, I began to crave cake.  I told myself that I could eat lots of cake to make up for all the meals I  couldn’t eat during the first trimester, when even water made me gag.  So, from 12 weeks on,  I was standing in line at Bouchon every weekend ordering enough pastries for not one, or even two, but three people!

New Yorkers know that Bouchon is a supreme purveyor of pastries.  The cookies are like no cookie you’ve ever had before; try the "TKO" and you’ll be laughing and crying at once.  The “drinking chocolate” causes an instant throat orgasm.  The traditional French treats—macarons, croissant and dense lemon and chocolate tarts—will bring you to your knees in prayer. 

I figured it would pass once Ayla was born.

The day after giving birth to Ayla, we ordered a chocolate truffle cake from Dufflet Pastries in Toronto, another heavenly bakery that makes to-die-for cakes.  The cake was a celebration of Ayla’s first day on the planet, I reasoned.  I savored her arrival with every last crumb.

Two weeks later, it was my birthday, so we called Dufflet again.  Another two weeks passed and it was Mother’s Day.  I called Dufflet and had to clarify to the store clerk, “Yes, it’s the same Tagore that ordered a cake two weeks ago!”  Then every two weeks, I ordered another cake.  I didn’t wait for Father’s Day or Arbor Day or Memorial Day.  Justifying the cakes was no longer important.  I spent hours deciding on the next flavor.  Cake felt like my lifeline during those first few months of motherhood. 

By now it’s probably obvious that I’m an emotional eater.  I don’t know many women who aren’t.  I’m not being defensive when I say that I’m thankful that when I’m in a bind, I reach for chocolate rather than Zanax or heroin.  If a little bit of sugar makes me feel happy on the inside, why not?

But in the midst of my sixth, 6-inch cake from Dufflet, I realized it had to stop.  I went cold turkey.  No cake, no chocolate, no pastries of any kind were allowed in the house.  I began power-walking with Ayla in the Moby wrap.  I lifted weights in the gym.  I did sit-ups while she napped in bed.  I lost a few pounds.  More importantly, I stopped craving cake.

I’ve since wondered why I needed to binge.  And then I remembered how out of control it felt to be pregnant for the first time.  When the nausea hit in week 5, I marveled that my baby—who was the size of a grain of rice—had quietly assumed control over my entire body.  While pregnant, there wasn’t an hour that passed when I wasn’t thinking about or planning for or talking to my child.  And after she swam out of the birth canal, everything was either directly or indirectly about Ayla.

It’s a big deal to share your body with another person.  It’s an even bigger deal to gently release the reins of your life, and allow a small child to do the driving.  It was hard on me.  So I ate cake.

Ayla is eight months old now. I have some time to myself, every now and again.  I’m able to write.  I sleep pretty well.  And I haven’t left the house with mismatched socks for about three months. 

Even still, sometimes I need cake to get through the day.  Last night, I bought a single slice of grocery store cake.  After Ayla was deep in slumber, I snuck out to the kitchen, and dared to bring the cake into bed.  I ate it slowly, while observing a ripe moon dangling from an ink-stained sky.  It felt indulgent, but deeply satisfying.  Then at 5 a.m., Ayla woke up, ready to play.  And I, satiated with cake, was ready to play too. 

[This entry is cross-posted at http://laboroflove.typepad.com]

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